🔴 The banners have been flown for several years without incident

🔴 The Gloucester County Prosecutor is investigating as a possible bias crime

🔴 "Not representative of our community," said Mayor Lou Manzo

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Who took the "pride" out of "pride day"?

Vandals somehow cut the word “pride” out of four pride banners hung on poles by the Mullica Hill Pond Saturday night or early Sunday morning, according to municipal police.

Mayor Lou Manzo said he met with Police Chief Ron Cundey regarding their investigation and submitted a bias incident form to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.

“This appalling act is not representative of our community and we have received numerous messages and inquiries expressing outrage and disgust as word of the vandalized banners has spread,” Manzo said in a letter to residents.

Mullica Hill Pond in Harrison Township (Gloucester Township)
Mullica Hill Pond in Harrison Township (Gloucester Township) (Canva)

Investigation underway

Tom Gilbert, chief of detectives for the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, said they are in the very preliminary stage of their investigation.

"Our first challenge would be trying to identify those responsible and then we always have to dig into what their mindset was and why they would have done such a thing," Gilbert told New Jersey 101.5, adding that there are no video cameras in the park around the pond.

"We're starting from square one so it will probably take some time and I don't know if we will be able to clear the job or not but we certainly take it very serious as do all the people in Harrison," Gilbert said.

Pride displays and products have become controversial during this year's celebration.

A Board of Education meeting became heated after the interim superintendent removed a Pride lawn sign from Westwood Regional Middle School in accordance with district policy allowing only U.S. flags to be displayed. Pride flags were allowed to be displayed in the school's windows.

New Jersey District Attorney Matt Platkin and 15 state attorney generals said their states would support Target after it came under criticism for promoting Pride merchandise targeted toward transgender consumers.

"This Pride Month, the LGBTQIA+ community needs and deserves our support and protection more than ever," the letter reads, "We urge Target to double down on inclusivity, reject hate in all its forms, and stand firm in the face of intimidation and discrimination," the letter says.

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